Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Teenager Huth Set for UEFA Baptism

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Teenager Huth Set for UEFA Baptism

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

GERMAN teenager Robert Huth could make a surprise European debut at Stamford Bridge tonight as Chelsea meet Norwegians Viking FK in their UEFA Cup first-round tie.

Berlin-born Huth, who has made one Premiership appearance, as a substitute in the final match of last season against Aston Villa, could partner Marcel Desailly at the heart of Chelsea's defence tonight.

With fullbacks Graeme Le Saux, Albert Ferrer and Celestine Babayaro all injured and Mario Melchiot suspended, Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri is likely to switch William Gallas to right-back, and stick with Mario Stanic on the left flank.

"Robert is big, strong and quick," said Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard today.

"He's good in the air and, if he plays, this will be valuable experience for him."

With John Terry still a week away from full fitness, Chelsea's options are limited but the manager could make other changes as he rotates his squad.

Chelsea will be looking to t a ke an emphatic lead to Norway for the second leg in two weeks' time, but there was a warning from striker Eidur Gudjohnsen today.

" Scandinavian sides will always be physically strong," he said. "I have heard Viking have a lot of height and they will be dangerous on set-pieces.

"But we have something to make up for after going out in the first round last year. This time we really want to go as far as we can in this competition."

Having seen London rivals Arsenal beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in front of 35,000 at Highbury in the Champions League on Tuesday, Ranieri and his players Ranieri, however, is likely to include the inform Gianfranco Zola in the line-up.

have made no secret of the fact that a place in Europe's blueriband club competition is their ultimate target.

But they also have their pride, and know only too well that they have drastically underperformed in the UEFA Cup over the last couple of years.

First there was a shock defeat to Swiss club St Gallen in a match in Zurich which will forever be remembered for Roberto Di Matteo's career-ending injury.

And then again last season, against Hapoel Tel Aviv, in a second-round tie played amidst fears for the players' safety. …

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